Ten Reasons to Try Safari 3.1

Safari 3.1 is out. I’ve been using Safari 3.x as my default Web browser for the past few weeks, and aside from a few client quirks (I’m not necessarily thrilled about its tab or window management) it’s been working quite well. In fact, so well that I have no issue in recommending that regular folks use it as their default Web browser… on Windows or Mac OS X.

  1. It’s Fast. Very fast. Very, very, very fast.
  2. No Toolbars. Some might find this a reason not to like Safari, but it’s one of the reasons I love it. The UI is uncluttered – and if my dad used it as his default browser, I wouldn’t have to worry about him installing 5x useless toolbars. Sorry, but I believe the Web browser toolbar is well past its prime.
  3. Compatibility. I’ve only been on a few Web sites that did not work well in Safari, and that’s largely because the Web development team made it impossible to do (not because WebKit is a slouch).
  4. Password Management. I love that I DON’T have to strike a key combo or click a field to AutoFill it before my stored login credentials show up – they just show up automatically like I’d expect them to. Moreover, I can manage all my passwords easily through Keychain.
  5. Made to Help Undo Mistakes. The “Reopen All Windows from Last Session” feature is something that all browsers should come with. No doubt.
  6. URL Path Navigation. Let’s say you’re viewing this particular article on the Web (the permalink for it, at least). In Safari, you can right-click the title in the Title Bar of the window and navigate up through the path on my Web site. Try it – you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it, or previously had to rely on the Google toolbar to give that feature to you in Firefox or IE.
  7. Perfect Amount of Plugins. I’ve only had a few issues with pages that require additional software to run properly (related to Web developers believing that Flip4Mac is the only way for OS X users to view Windows Media files, when in fact we can use either VLC or mplayer). Silverlight works well, Rhapsody works well, and I can watch all episodes of Lost as well as anybody else. I don’t feel I’m missing anything.
  8. Web Inspector. I love this tool. It comes with Safari, and will let you know exactly what might be wrong with a Web page. So, instead of telling someone that “something” is broken and telling them to fix it, you can tell them EXACTLY what’s broken. It’s an amazing Web development tool to boot. Check out the “Network” option in it to see how long it took for EACH PAGE ELEMENT to load. Geeky awesome!!!
  9. History Management. I’m a visual learner, and I most appreciate that Safari shows you a site’s favicon next to the page’s title in History. So much easier to navigate – especially when you know the site’s favicon over anything else.
  10. Search Results SnapBack. Let’s say you click on a result in your default search engine and navigate 20 pages deep into it. You can instantly snap back to your original query by tapping a key combo. Genius.

In terms of JavaScript performance, you just can’t beat Safari or WebKit on any platform – and in a day and age where every other Web site is AJAX’ed out the wazoo, JS perf is paramount.

Firefox 3 is going to give Safari a run for its money – even though I don’t think it’ll ever run half as fast as Safari does (IMHO). The good news is that you can have more than one Web browser on your system at one time, and if you’ve been curious about Safari… there’s no time like the present to try it. It’s available for free for either Windows or Mac OS X. Unless you’re on Linux, you have no excuses (even then, I’d suggest downloading the latest stable build of the core from WebKit.org).

What Web browser do you use, and why? Have you tried Safari before now – did you like it? Am I off my rocker to recommend it to tech neophytes and power users alike?